Past Olios

I'm Alive. Now What? Reading Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground

In this Olio we will use Dostoevsky's "Notes From Underground" as a way of addressing a fraught human existence. How do we perceive the world and, in turn, how do we then perceive ourselves? We'll use the novel as a jumping-off point to locate our modern positions on issues like: The fallacy of rationalism and scientific utopias. Together, we will participate in an open dialogue to process experiences and emotions that result from our engagement with the work and reflect on who we are, our values, our shared fate.

Teacher: Patricia Kim

March 28, 2021, 3 p.m.

Where is My "Self"? A Dialogue between East and West

Eastern and Western philosophers Darryl and Jeanne, will meet for the first time to discuss how consciousness, awareness, personal identity and agency can be explored and understood in radically different ways. They'll discuss concepts like self-care, narcissism, and personal identity during this hour long forum and leave plenty of time for audience questions.

Teacher: Darryl Aiken-Afam

March 23, 2021, 6 p.m.

What If: How Sci-Fi Designs for Climate Crisis

From DUNE to Star Wars, to Three-Body Problem, science fiction writers have not only imagined extreme weather conditions but preempted climate change and created according strategies to address these threats. Together we will examine how speculative design is a key to climate preparedness and how imagining the future we want can help determine the tools and strategies we propose.

Teacher: Lily Consuelo Saporta Tagiuri

March 22, 2021, 8 p.m.

Stoicism Symposium: Jeanne & Massimo in Conversation

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” - Marcus Aurelius Philosophers Massimo Pigliucci and Jeanne Proust will question quotes like this one and Stoicism in general to shed light on its modern day application. Participants will have a chance to ask questions in a free flowing forum live on zoom.

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

March 5, 2021, 6 p.m.

James Baldwin, Individual Responsibility and the Terror of Change

Drawing mostly from his essays, we will ask how Baldwin understands the demands for a multi-racial democracy in the United States. How do the democratic ideals of liberal democracy, ideals such as individualism, liberty, and equality, reckon with the foundational racism of the United States?

Teacher: Ruth Mas

Feb. 28, 2021, 3 p.m.

Sovereignty, Solidarity, & The Land Back Movement

This Olio will focus on select historical moments, geographical sites, and case studies to explore the complexities of life for indigenous peoples in the Pacific Islands and North America subject to the authority of the United States. Related themes to be presented include an examination of Indigenous peoples' varied political status in relation to questions of sovereignty and self-determination, structures of settler colonialism and resistance, and diverse forms of indigenous agency.

Teacher: J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

Feb. 18, 2021, 8 p.m.

"Places, Everyone!" - The History of Broadway & The Theater District in NYC

The evolution of the musical as a genre was sculpted and shaped by the radical changes in New York's Theater District and cultural revolutions over the last 100 years. In this Olio we'll trace the origins of the Theater District in New York and track the changes made over the last 100 years through important examples from the genre.

Teacher: Whitney George

Jan. 18, 2021, 8 p.m.

A New Contract with Black America: Where Do We Go From Here?

In this Olio, we’ll explore some of the real considerations missed in the conversation around the “Black Vote,” the misunderstood motivators as to how Black communities vote, and the dismissal in progressive and conservative spaces of Black independence, autonomy and choice. We'll then come together, in session two to process the aftermath of the election and shine some historical context onto the political stage playing out in front of us.

Teacher: Ifeoma Ike

Nov. 8, 2020, 8 p.m.

Marx Was Right: Capitalism Failed

Author and activist, Hadas Thier, will break down the workings (or failings) of our economic system and discuss its connection to society’s greatest political challenges. We'll go through the basic concepts laid out by Karl Marx, and discuss how these ideas provide a radical analysis of capitalism and critical tools for activists who seek to dismantle the world of the 1 percent.

Teacher: Hadas Thier

Aug. 19, 2020, 8 p.m.

Cancel Culture

Just like #MeToo, many movements have demanded greater accountability from public figures; leading to public humiliations, and have led to a source of great debate over the intricacies of internet ethics. Can free speech go too far and be weaponized? Or is free speech precisely the thing targeted by cancel culture?

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Aug. 9, 2020, 2 p.m.

Truth & Certainty

We are nowadays all confronted with a very uncertain future, and it seems that our primary reaction to it is discomfort. Where is this discomfort coming from and what does it say about our relationship with the future? Is uncertainty always a dreadful thing? Why do we seek certitude?

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

July 16, 2020, 8 p.m.

Public Safety vs Economic Collapse

An overview of the monetary actions taken by U.S. policymakers to address the Covid-19 crisis and an exploration of the possible alternative routes that could have been taken

Teacher: Andres Bernal

July 10, 2020, 8 p.m.

What is Drag, Anyway?

What does it mean to suggest that drag is an art form expressed in the medium of gender? If the categories of "male" and "female" are obsolete, what function does drag serve in the world?

Teacher: Eric Shorey

July 9, 2020, 8 p.m.

New Toys and New Tyrants: Capitalism and the Rise of Platform Economics

In this Olio, Professor Rob Larson, author of Bit Tyrants: The Political Economy of Silicon Valley, will dissect the Big Five platform giants, put their economics under a microscope, and review the record of the online companies.

Teacher: Rob Larson

June 30, 2020, 8 p.m.

Press Start to Begin: A Survey & History of Video Game Music

Come with cartridges cleaned and a fresh pair of AA batteries in your Game Boy as we enjoy some retro classics and how they have inspired some current greats.

Teacher: Whitney George

June 26, 2020, 8 p.m.

Fear and Loathing in America: LSD and the Freak Politics of the 1960s

In this Olio, we’ll examine the impact and influence of LSD on American culture and politics in the 1960s. As the drug became popular among a wide range of radical thinkers, artists, and activists, a kind of “freak politics” attempted to merge personal transcendence and political liberation.

Teacher: David Parsons

June 25, 2020, 8 p.m.

Progressives, Radicals & Well-Meaning Liberals

Instead of looking at divides between liberals and conservatives, we'll address divides among progressives, namely liberals and radicals. How does liberal ideology reproduce classism and racism? What are the fundamental differences between liberals and radicals? **Proceeds from this Olio will go to The Women for Political Change, Frontline Fund.**

Teacher: Angie Beeman

June 11, 2020, 8 p.m.

A Dialogue: Buddhism and the Stoics

Is it possible that philosophies and religious traditions are saying the same thing? Buddhism and the Greco Roman school of philosophy known as Stoicism have many striking similarities in both philosophy and practice.

Teacher: Bhante Kusala & Michael Prettyman

June 5, 2020, 8 p.m.

How the Past Stays with Us: The Big Lebowski and the Legacy of the 1960s

In this Olio, we will explore The Big Lebowski as a meta-text on the 1960s, unpacking how the film’s relentless references to specific events, movements, people, and other historical ephemera reveals a struggle to deal with the era’s many unanswered questions.

Teacher: David Parsons

May 29, 2020, 8 p.m.

What is Memorial Day? Historical Memory and Intentional Forgetting

Let's join together on the day after Memorial Day for this political action of reading and remembering. Indeed, this holiday of remembering is about much more than honoring dead soldiers.

Teacher: Jamie Warren

May 26, 2020, 10 p.m.

How to Live a Good Life?

With a special emphasis on Stoicism and existentialism, we will discuss the importance of reflecting on and challenging one’s philosophy of life, appreciating the sheer variety of philosophical views on life, and how entering into conversation with other perspectives can help to better understand others who have chosen differently.

Teacher: Skye and Massimo

May 17, 2020, 1:30 p.m.

History of American Capitalism

What does it mean, historically speaking, to label the United States capitalist at its origins?

Teacher: Michael Crowder

May 13, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

Labor & Space

To geographers, everything that happens to us happens in space. This includes the ways we work. From company towns to working from home, all work happens in some space--even as that space becomes more and more abstract or we become further and further alienated from production.

Teacher: Lauren Hudson

May 6, 2020, 8 p.m.

How Shall I Live? The Path of Stoic Joy

One of the assumptions of stoic philosophy is that there is meaning and possibility in any given circumstance - each episode in the book of life is an opportunity to grow and to learn, especially when these chapters bring us difficulty.

Teacher: Michael Prettyman

May 1, 2020, 8 p.m.

Housing for All? The Past, Present, and Future of Housing Justice in New York City

We will explore the complexity of the housing landscape of New York. We will examine immediate responses to the pandemic, goals like the cancellation of rent, and tactics, like rent strikes. We will then look to recent history, specifically the fight for stronger rent regulation.

Teacher: Oksana Mironova

April 30, 2020, 7 p.m.

Thomas Paine & the Roots of American Progressivism

Who exactly was Thomas Paine, and why is someone like Andrew Yang talking about him? Paine’s life and legacy have always hovered as a specter over the American political left, and this class explores how and why.

Teacher: Michael Crowder

April 21, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

Poor Men Are Not Free Men

The Great Depression and New Deal fundamentally altered our relationship with our government and redefined how Americans conceive of the word freedom. Crisis often breeds great change. It’s an important story. And a complicated one.

Teacher: Lawrence Cappello

April 19, 2020, 7 p.m.

I Cannot Do Nothing - The Search for Meaning

Amidst new daily routines, changing relationships with work and shifting identities during this pandemic, Michael Prettyman will guide us through Viktor Frankl's seminal text “Man’s Search for Meaning”, which proposes that we can and must find meaning in any situation we face, regardless of the circumstance. "

Teacher: Michael Prettyman

April 17, 2020, 8 p.m.

At Home

What is it to have a home? Homebirds, homebodies, homelovings: what are the benefits of a stay-at-home life? Mona Chollet takes us on a journey about how time and space have been transfigured, even disfigured, in today's ultra-productive society.

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

April 14, 2020, 7 p.m.

The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Two-Part Olio Series

The Great Depression and New Deal fundamentally altered our relationship with our government and redefined how Americans conceive of the word freedom. Crisis often breeds great change. It’s an important story. And a complicated one.

Teacher: Lawrence Cappello

April 12, 2020, 7 p.m.

But How Are We Going To Pay For it? Modern Monetary Theory and the Public Purse

We will examine what MMT actually argues about the nature and origin of money, the purpose of taxes, and the issue of inflation. What do these words really mean and what can our government actually do? In fact, what the heck is money?

Teacher: Andres Bernal

April 10, 2020, 7 p.m.

The World Before Germs

In this Olio we will learn about the history of germ theory, and the contentious efforts made to convince the public that their most feared killers were invisible.

Teacher: Jamie Warren

April 7, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

Everything Fragile Breaks: Finding Meaning in Black Swan Events

In his book “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” Nassim Nicolas Taleb describes events, either positive or negative, that are improbable yet when they happen they create massive consequences. History is not a linear progression, no matter how much we imagine it to be so.

Teacher: Michael Prettyman

April 4, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

'I would die for you’: The Feminist Politics of a Broken Heart

Rather than viewing their weakness for love as a contradiction of feminist strength, this Olio will explore the possibilities for thinking of the broken heart as a breeding ground for radical thought and social transformation.

Teacher: Jamie Warren

Feb. 28, 2020, 7:30 p.m.


The first Strand Olio of 2020! Come celebrate the New Year with us as Jeanne Proust aptly discusses the concept of 'Time' through a philosophical lens.

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Jan. 10, 2020, 7 p.m.


The first Olio at Strand in 2020! Come celebrate the New Year with us as Jeanne Proust aptly discusses the concept of 'Time' through a philosophical lens.

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Jan. 10, 2020, 7:30 p.m.


What do we want out of a modern university? What kind of education supports the growth of an ethical and creative individual and community? We'll look to some of Nietzsche’s prophetic lectures to understand what's gone awry in the university and how it might be transformed.

Teacher: Vishwa Adluri

Nov. 22, 2019, 7 p.m.

Modern Privacy: Reclaiming Our Self Narratives

“If you’re not doing anything wrong then you should have nothing to hide.” Lawrence Cappello will walk us through this statement and it's implications while also arguing that privacy is one of the foremost issues of our civilization.

Teacher: Lawrence Cappello

Oct. 4, 2019, 7 p.m.

Margaret Fuller, Beethoven, and Revolution in the Minds of Women

In this Olio, we will listen to musical performances by Groupmuse to both feel and think through what Fuller calls the “rapid transition; the spiral and undulatory movement” of music. How does music act on the individual and the collective to make one feel a part of something greater?

Teacher: None

Aug. 22, 2019, 7 p.m.

The Tyranny of Happy: On Contemporary Over-Performance

In this Olio, we will explore the manifestations and possible reasons for the repulsion people feel for their suffering peers, and how that repulsion might be connected to the pressure for performance in a narcissistic “burnout society” we live in.

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Aug. 15, 2019, 7 p.m.

Death, Sex, Race, and Other Lies We Tell Our Bodies

Join Jamie Warren for an Olio dedicated to the often overlooked chapter in Foucault's "History of Sexuality" entitled 'Right of Death and Power Over Life' Why does a book about modern sexuality conclude with a thesis on death?

Teacher: Jamie Warren

July 11, 2019, 7 p.m.

Sex, Pleasure & Intimacy in the Time of Capitalism

Kim Nguyen explores how politics, money, power, and toxic masculinity are barriers to some of the most fulfilling aspects of our lives in the rare books room of the Strand.

Teacher: Kim Nguyen

May 24, 2019, 7 p.m.

The Holy Fool

Join Geoff Klock in the Strand's Rare Book Room as we look to Shakespeare, David Lynch, and other sources of pop culture to explore the idea that the stupidest characters might be our best source of groundbreaking wisdom.

Teacher: Geoff Klock

May 22, 2019, 7 p.m.

Cuba and The Commu-Capitalist Reality of Today

Take a departure from mainstream media's picture of Cuba and explore what life is like in Cuba today, 60 years after the revolution with Teresita Levy, professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at Lehman College.

Teacher: Teresita Levy

May 10, 2019, 7 p.m.

Art or Image?

Vishwa Adluri draws parallels from ancient Greek and Indian myth all the way to modern Dada art, in order to see if we can completely rethink the relationship between art and reality.

Teacher: Vishwa Adluri

April 25, 2019, 7 p.m.

Madame(s) X: Muses, Makers, & Shifting Identities

Behind some of the defining works of early modernism lie the remarkable biographies of the women who inspired the art. What did it mean to toe that line between art and life in an age when women’s rights were strictly curtailed?

Teacher: Ted Barrow

April 9, 2019, 7 p.m.

OlioMuse | Beethoven's Minor Mood

Think Olio and Groupmuse team up for a live-music lecture. Professor Gil Harel, accompanied by a Group Muse duo of piano and violin will take us through the expressive qualities of these Beethoven works and discuss their role in revolutionizing music of the 19th century.

Teacher: None

April 5, 2019, 7 p.m.

The Circular Road: Art and the Religious Imagination

In this Olio we will examine our assumptions about what art is, what constitutes creativity and look at the “two lives” of art- the goopy and messy creation of art in the studio, and the critical presence of the witness in completing a work of art.

Teacher: Michael Prettyman

Feb. 22, 2019, 7 p.m.

Friendship Over Romance

​ We tend to talk about love as the type of personal relationship we should primarily seek and thrive for. But Isn’t friendship much more crucial in our lives?

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Feb. 15, 2019, 7 p.m.

Nonsense on Stilts: Science, Pseudoscience & the Need for Critical Thinking

In this Olio, we will explore the good science/pseudo science landscape and learn some ways to exercise critical thinking.

Teacher: None

Feb. 1, 2019, 7 p.m.

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Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.